The nation's second-largest for-profit college company is fighting a lawsuit that keeps growing — with the state of Florida now one of the newest parties to join the case.
Education Management Corp., which runs a variety of schools, including the Art Institute, Argosy University, and Brown Mackie College, is being sued by ex-employees for violating the federal government's ban on paying commission to recruiters to enroll students. In recent weeks, the U.S. Justice Department has joined in the suit, followed by attorneys general in California, Illinois and, most recently, Florida. Company officials have denied the suit's allegations.
The for-profit college company boasts nine campuses throughout Florida and enrolls more than 150,000 students nationwide.
Florida entered the fray "as a procedural matter" to protect the state's interests, Jennifer Krell Davis, a spokeswoman for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, said Friday.
The suit, filed in Pennsylvania by two ex-employees at one of the company's Pittsburgh offices, alleges that Education Management urged its recruiters to enroll students before thoroughly reviewing their academic qualifications. Though the company professed to have academic requirements, anyone who simply submitted an application and a 150-word essay was admitted, the suit states.
Recruiters' salary, according to the suit, was based primarily on a numbers-focused system known as "the matrix." The number of new students enrolled is converted to points which then set each recruiter's salary range.
After the Justice Department joined the suit last month, Education Management released a statement denying any misconduct and vowing to mount a vigorous defense in court.